In the last issue we discussed how people diagnosed with chronic respiratory failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at higher risk for infection. This issue, we focus on ways to ease their breathing problems.

Struggling to breathe forces the body to start using neck, stomach, back and chest muscles. They hurt as badly as after a fully body workout!

Two exercises on the American Lung Association’s website help strengthen lungs:

Pursed Lip Breathing

This exercise reduces the number of breaths you take and keeps your airways open longer. More air is able to flow in and out of your lungs, so you can be more physically active. To practice it, simply breathe in through your nose and breathe out at least twice as long through your mouth, with pursed lips.1

Belly Breathing, aka Diaphragmic Breathing

As with pursed lip breathing, start by breathing in through your nose. Pay attention to how your belly fills up with air. You can put your hands lightly on your stomach, or place a tissue box on it, so you can be aware of your belly rising and falling. Breathe out through your mouth at least two to three times as long as your inhale. Be sure to relax your neck and shoulders as you retrain your diaphragm to take on the work of helping to fill and empty your lungs.1  

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American Lung Association Breathing Exercises: